The legendary Amitabh Bachchan joined Leonardo DiCaprio on the red carpet at Cannes, both for his role in Baz Lurhmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, and to spearhead the festival’s celebration of 100 years of Indian cinema.
Despite being one of Bollywood’s most recognisable stars, Bachchan was awed by the reception: “Just the fact that Cannes mentions it (Indian cinema), or at least brings attention to the rest of the world as a tribute to this cinema is big enough. And then to find your self actually being asked to do the opening with Leonardo was just an unbelievable experience.”
Also flying the flag was actress, Sonam Kapoor, whose family’s almost omnipresent involvement in Indian cinema, means the anniversary has extra resonance for her: “I am third generation and my family has been in the business for 60 years. So out of the 100 years, 60 years of that time my family has been in it. So for me it’s great because I have been around for five years and so for me just to be a small speck in that 100 years is incredible.”
Bachchan stars in ‘Bombay Talkies’ – an ode to the last century, to be screened at Cannes as part of the celebrations – but the actor is more excited about the creative potential of the next generation of Indian movie-makers.
As he explained: “I think that Indian cinema is changing for the better and we are seeing a whole crop of new young directors and makers and artists who are exceptionally talented coming up from regions which were unknown, from small towns and making some great films.”
‘Bombay Talkies’ offer four intimate, and distinctive, tributes to the past from four of India’s most eminent contemporary filmmakers – Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Zoya Akhtar and Dibakar Banerjee.
Released earlier in India earlier this month, the film is showing out of competition at this year’s festival.